Obama begins historic Myanmar visit
I don't think anybody is under the illusion that Burma's arrived, that they're where they need to be, Obama told a news conference as he began a three-country Asian tour, his first trip abroad since winning a second term.
On the other hand, if we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is we'd be waiting an awful long time.
Obama arrives with his attention divided as he faces a mounting conflict in the Gaza Strip and grapples with a looming fiscal crisis at home.
But his Southeast Asian trip, less than two weeks after his re-election, is aimed at showing how serious he is about shifting the U.S. strategic focus eastwards as America winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The so-called Asia pivot is also meant to counter China's rising influence.
Obama's trip to Burma risks providing an undeserved seal of approval to the military-
dominated government that is still violating human rights, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said before the president arrived in the region.
Obama's aides said he was determined to lock in democratic changes already under way, but would also press for further action, including freeing remaining political prisoners and stronger efforts to curb ethnic and sectarian violence.
A senior U.S. official said Obama would announce the resumption of U.S. aid programmes in Myanmar during his visit, anticipating assistance of $170 million in fiscal 2012 and 2013, but this, too, would be dependent
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